Modern Christians and “Two Ways” Theology

Justus Hunter and I just read through the Apostolic Fathers with our Doctor of Ministry students. While reading, I was struck with the prevalence of “two ways” theology in these writings. It is most plainly stated in the opening line of the Diadache: “There are two ways: one of life and one of death. And there is a great difference between the two ways.”

What a marked difference between our context and theirs. Large swaths of the North American church continue their ongoing struggle to be relevant, seeker-sensitive, accommodating, and powerful–undertakings the early church would have recognized as utterly futile. Martyrdom was a real possibility for these first Christians. Two writers we include in the Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius and Polycarp, were publicly executed because they would not renounce their faith in Christ. To many of their day, it must have seemed such a small thing… “Make sacrifice to the genius of the Emperor…. That’s all you have to do. You can still say prayers to Jesus if you want, hang around with your Christian friends, engage in your strange rituals…. Just work with us on this one small detail….” But the early Christians knew: there could be no compromise in their devotion to the Christian God. It was all or nothing. There are two ways.

Perhaps this short post is only a reflection of my own disillusionment. I suppose I spend too much time on Twitter. But the ongoing accommodation to the demands of secularism, the eager knee-bending before political idols, the “Let’s go Brandon” chants coming from Christians sitting in church before a service ostensibly to worship the Christian God, Trinitarian heresy (subordinationism) from a theologian whose overriding hermeneutical principle seems to be a complementarian understanding of gender…. These get me down. Yes, I have my own sins. God knows them. But the key to overcoming sin is sanctification, and I wonder how much of the church in America today wants to be sanctified. Do we want to be saints or celebrities? God help us.

The early Christians were right. There really are two ways, one of life, and one of death. And the difference between them is vast.

9 thoughts on “Modern Christians and “Two Ways” Theology

  1. I too am dissolutioned and frankly discouraged at the state of what is being portrayed as the church today. I don’t even recognize it!
    Yet, I know there are those who are faithful. God help us show THE way and love of Jesus to our world. Let us shine the light of Jesus as a city on a hill.
    Thank you for your voice, leadership, and faithfulness.

  2. Appreciate your insights, which bring three things to mind (two biblical and one classic rock):
    1. Psalm 1
    2. “No one can serve two masters; he will love the one and hate the other.”
    3. “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin … Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

  3. As we join with the Lord more and more, so many issues become irrelevant. If we place our focus upon what the Lord has said, and take it off of what sinful men have said, the walk of His way becomes more and more straightforward. Increasingly, He walks us forward more than we walk to Him. But so many in the churches, are and have been so eager to look away from the things He Personally has said. From pledges of allegiances to flags of this world, to devotions to sins of the flesh, they walk away.

    One of the best ways I have to distinguish the dross from the holy in any church, is to consider from the point of view of the unbeliever that I once was. I learned today that the Pilgrim government of 1600’s New England USA, offered and paid bounties on scalps of their unbelieving neighbors. This is just the capstone of the filthy snowflake-faith pap which has been fed in lieu of the truth of Christ the Lord; there is far more, and certainly, no unbeliever looking for worthwhile faith will wisely walk into almost any church I have ever seen or heard of, in late December, or (thankfully) to a lesser extent these decades, in egg and bunny season. I am in Christ because the Lord sent rare people to me, who did not whitewash the churches, who persisted in engaging me with the words of Christ the Lord Himself.

    I have met many of these rare people, at least a few in every single church to which the Lord has taken my sweet Lori and I. I am grateful to Him, for everyone who is worthwhile.

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